Schooling for Tomorrow has conducted six Futures Thinking educational initiatives in recent years in collaboration with varied OECD countries, expanding to thirteen initiatives in 2006. The participating countries and institutions report an increase in long-term thinking about the challenges facing their educational systems.
Key characteristics shared by all Educational Futures Thinking in Action initiatives serve as a starting point:
Educational - Each initiative aims to inform decision-making in learning and education, inside or outside the formal school system. All include the participation of authorities, practitioners, and persons outside the system who have a direct interest in education.
Futures Thinking - Each initiative incorporates a futures-oriented methodology as an essential aspect of the effort to reach goals on a medium- to long-term time scale, 10-15 years or more.
In Action - Each initiative operates within a political agenda or broad development framework of action, rather than being an academic exercise of researchers. All build strategic capacity or futures-oriented dialogue with a focus on sustainability.
Diversity in context and content
There is no single best way to engage in Futures Thinking: The country-based experiences suggest the diversity of contexts where Futures Thinking can be applied. They vary not just in context and content, but also in participants and audiences, from a wide range of stakeholders reflecting on long-term policy for language preservation, for example, to targeted capacity-building for school leaders.
The country initiatives have developed, or are in the process of developing, interesting projects, combining their own agendas with the Schooling for Tomorrow project. The SfT tools are used to various degrees, adapted to local needs and purposes.
The initiatives are now at different stages of progress depending on when they began, with the newer ones learning from those that are more advanced. The knowledge base presented here is one way of sharing valuable insights from each initiative.